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Saturday, March 08, 2008

Louisiana Derby Day

- Well, the weather sucks here, so what could be better than sitting at home, kicking back and watching these Fair Grounds races on.......Oh.

Well, anyway, Silver Sands is the first horse in the first race of the big day. This three-year old daughter of El Prado was bet down to 2-1 in her debut. She hopped at the start, saved some ground after that. But jockey Patrick Husbands had to wait behind horses and swing out turning for home; and then had to abruptly change course to the outside in the stretch. After finally being set down, the filly finished with much interest, only four lengths back in 6th. Trainer Mark Casse adds blinkers, a 31% move (in 26 starts). Silver Sands has a lot of inbreeding, to Northern Dancer, Native Dancer, Turn-to, Hail to Reason, Nashua, and the great broodmare Special.

Le Caire is the morning line favorite amongst the non-MTO entries, for Frankel. Nice efforts in her first two, on a fast main track and in the slop. She earned a big Beyer in the latter, but tries grass for the first time; she stands to be overbet based on her 87 Beyer and her trainer, just 27-1-4-1 at the meeting. She's by the grass champion Cozzene, out of a Gone West mare.

- In the 4th race, Final Refrain is listed at 9-2 in the morning line, while Pectoralis Major is at 15-1. If the odds turn out to be like that, it would surely be a huge overlay on the latter, who Final Refrain defeated by only a head in their last race. Not only that, but Pectoralis Major was far back early, and then a good 3-4 paths wider of Final Refrain as they both rallied turning for home. This five-year old daughter of Unbridled's Song has been pretty consistent at and around this mile and a sixteenth distance, and trainer Malcolm Pierce is hitting at 25% (13 for 51) for the meeting.

- I guess the question about Euroears in the 5th, the Duncan F. Kenner, is what he's faced thus far. His last dirt race, his stakes win over the track in which he earned a career high Beyer of 106, was a pretty strong field, with the consistent Stormin Baghdad checking in second; third place finisher Semaphore Man came back to trounce an Oaklawn field that has produced a stakes winner in Probation Ready. But though Semaphore Man wired that field, he's not a consistent speed sort, and Euroears has the Moss pace figures to dominate this field early on.

One horse who might be worth watching is Les Grands Trois. His erratic campaign is certainly of concern, but he's run well off the layoff, and may not have cared for the Cushion Track or the Grade 1 company in the Malibu. His consistent works over the Hollywood synthetic track may give him a conditioning edge here.

- You know I'm not a chalky type of guy, but this all-graded stakes Pick Four looks as if it could be a cold number. There's opportunity here if you can find a reason to oppose either Grasshopper, Daytona, Indian Blessing or Pyro. Personally, I'm not getting much inspiration to do so regarding any of them.

Grasshopper saved all the ground in the Mineshaft, but exploded through horses in convincing enough fashion to make him a solid pick in the New Orleans Handicap. He's 2-1 in the morning line, and stands to benefit price-wise from the presence of Circular Quay, who returns to the scene of his Louisiana Derby win, but with little....very little to recommend since that time. Silver Lord conceded ground on both turns to the favorite, but I think he'll need that kind of racing luck and more to turn the tables here. Brass Hat picked up the pieces when last in the Donn as Daaher sped to the six furlongs....and they couldn't retire that one fast enough, could they?

Daytona proved he could win outside of California when he wired the FG Handicap. Strangely, Mike Smith elected to stay in California (to do what, ride Neko Bay?), and Alex Solis picks up the mount. It's being billed as a stiffer test, with Proudinsky and Brilliant, the latter coming off a seven month layoff, in the field. Whatsmore, he starts from the outside ten post as the high weight. But the thing is, there is NO other speed in this race. Not all that often that you see a deep stakes field such as this with such an obvious lone speed. On paper anyway, he figures to effortlessly clear the field in the long run to the first turn, and I think he could easily go 1:12 2/5 again like he did last time and nobody, with the possible exception of the rail horse Buffalo Man, will be within two lengths. I like Yate's Black Cat as a possibility to hit the board at a nice price. Late runner should save ground with Kent D, and could run by those who are discouraged by the front runner in the long stretch.

I mentioned earlier in the week that I like Indian Blessing. And I'm really excited to see her run; more so, in fact, than the boys in the La Derby; and I'm not just trying to make a point about Filly Friday here. The Juvenile Filly champion really strutted her stuff that day; she was totally cool with Miss Missile having the early lead, scoffing at her 93-1 odds, and easily disposing of her when she was ready. And she opened up with an exhilarating, yet seemingly effortless burst of speed. Until she got leg weary in the final sixteenth of course. Chances are she will tire again here, and I wouldn't be shocked if Proud Spell, another filly who I quite fancy, catches her this time. But I'm not going to bet on that.

And Pyro is a colt who is just on a roll. He's been prominent in the racing press throughout the year, first with his morning outings with Curlin, and then his incredible rally to win the Risen Star. Not to say that there aren't other talented colts here. Tale of Ekati was number two on my Derby Top Ten, and Majestic Warrior is a colt who I know has a lot of fans who were not too deterred by his surprisingly dull Champagne. After all, War Pass loose on the lead has made other talented horses look bad too. By AP Indy, out of the multiple graded stakes winner Dream Supreme, by Seeking the Gold, Mott's colt only figures to get better around two turns, which he tries for the first time here.

But I dunno, the thought of opposing Pyro here seeks kinda like thinking that the Patriots were going to lose the Super Bowl.....believing that Hillary had no chance in hell to stop the Obama momentum......Hmmmm. Well, it's horse racing, so what, really, are the chances of the favorites sweeping these four races? And what would the Pick Four pay if they did? Certainly not odds worth betting I'm sure....but I'm presently not inclined to bet against it either.

- Yes, I have Formulator again. After some initial trouble, I was able to install Windows on my Mac Book, and this is a trip, man. I was doing something else while it was loading, and it was really weird to hear the Windows music and see the familiar logos pop up. You can run Windows and Mac in separate boxes side by side. I'm able to restore my Windows files from my online backup service, and drag them onto the Mac desktop. So this is quite cool, and thanks again to those who called this to my attention.


ljk said...

Majestic Warrior is my pool 1 pick so I'll be pulling for him today. His Hopeful was a carbon copy of Circular Quay's so maybe there will be a repeat of history in the LA Derby.

However, I work hard for my money and my noggin tells me that J Be K will be loose on the lead in here. By Silver Deputy he should be able to go 1 1/16 and the ML of 12-1 looks appealing to me.

Glimmerglass said...

And proof that the decision to make such a strong graded stakes race the 2008 start for Majestic Warrior was asinine: 7th place.

May Pal Charlie taking 2nd at 60-1 very nice :)

Nate said...


I am not sure if you got the chance to watch it or not, but today's El Camino Real Derby was a really special race. There winner was a 3 year old cold by Tannersmyman (never heard of him? neither have I), who also happened to be the longest shot in the field. He was 30-1 morning line, and I think he went off at 62 to 1. He was coming off a maiden win(on the 13th try) and was facing a huge step up in class, including a Pletcher trainee, Behindatthebar, who Pletcher was pretty high on before the race, and some other promising 3 year olds. The colt was purchased at the Northern California Yearling Sale for a mere $1,000...he has now earned over $150,000. But the best part about this colt is his message. His name is Autism Awareness, and he also has a 2 year old full sister named Cure Autism. It sounds like a wonderful story, and I, along with many others, would really appreciate it if you could mention this in your blog. I think this is the type of story that makes horse racing so special, and I just wish that things like this would get more exposure. Thanks Alan

nate said...


I just went back to the ntra website and saw that they posted a story on the horse. Here is the link:

Glimmerglass said...

As Nate said, it is a very nice story - and win - with Austism Awareness in the El Camino Derby. After the horrible multiple-horse wreck a couple races prior it was nice see something bright at Bay Meadows.

However with just $90k in graded stakes earning from the El Camino I can't see AA going to the Kentucky Derby - unless he snags somg more graded $ elsewhere.

Typically a starter in recent years needed at least $120k in graded $ to secure a starting gate.

Teresa said...

Congrats, Alan, on the wedding party, and on your filly being even money on the morning line. Best wishes to all of you, and good luck to Just Zip It.

And to the Rangers, of course...